Category Archives: Case Studies

Managing Information About Data Center Resources


Nowadays, there is an app for almost everything! Yet, we show little or no regard to what happens behind our shiny little screen until something breaks down and our lives descend to near chaos. That’s the conundrum of IT guys. The truth is that IT solutions are, in many cases, fragile things that need constant care. This is no easy task. In fact, most of the cost and effort involved in IT solutions is maintenance. A million things could go wrong. Words like preventive maintenance, service monitoring, business continuity, and disaster recovery are examples of the different activities done to maximize availability, and expedite troubleshooting. Everyone involved with these activities needs access to resources. Above all, they all need access to information.

What resources are being used?

IT data centers have both physical and digital resources. Physical resources include the facility (i.e. building), utilities, computer hardware (e.g. network switches, cables, servers, storage …etc.), and, also People. Digital resources are much fuzzier to define. A simplistic approach could classify them into data and applications. Each category can be further sub-classified into an entire ontology. The complexity increases when you consider the great number of potential resource types that can be created by combining physical and digital resources. Capturing, storing, and maintaining information about these resources is a big challenge. A lot of information can be retrieved from the resources themselves. Usually, each team responsible for supporting a certain group of resources would store information in spreadsheets and documents. More organized teams would use databases or knowledge management systems. More diligent organizations would have a central repository for everything.
What many fail to capture is the information about how all of these different clusters of resources are interconnected. That is often a much bigger and complex challenge. That information could be either buried deep in these systems (e.g. the username used to run a certain service), or is stored in people’s brains. The added value of an organizing system for data about data center resources can be multiplied if effectively organized information about their interactions.

Why are the resources organized?

Running an IT data center is complex, resource intensive, and risky. Customers require around the clock availability of services with no room for failure. The consequences of such failures go beyond financial loss and customer dissatisfaction. They could affect people’s safety and, even, national security. Cyber threats have become a constant threat for IT service providers, especially those that host highly sensitive data or serve critical operations. People can survive if their emails were inaccessible for an hour. However, what are the ramifications of a total failure of the IT infrastructure of the New York Stock Exchange? What if the airport systems of Heathrow airport failed?
These are some of the conditions that IT data center managers must work in.
Furthermore, technology advances have created highly diverse, complex, and integrated solutions. New resources are introduced frequently as old resources are retired. These activities require careful planning and execution to prevent the intricate eco-system from crashing. Having all the information required to plan these activities would mitigate that risk.

Nevertheless, when something wrong does happen, having the required information is equally important to expedite fixing it. In fact, availability of information increases with the severity of the problem. How can you rebuild a system if you don’t know how to connect its parts?
How much are the resources organized?
The granularity of the data required about data center resources varies between organizations and also between stakeholders of the same organization. The information can be classified into operational, and planning information.
Operational information is required for running day-to-day operations. These include information about resources and how they are interconnected. Many organizations put most of their focus on organizing operational information with high granularity. The granularity could be influenced by economic, political, an intellectual factors. Higher granularity means that more time and money are required to organize the information.
The level of granularity used to describe a resource type can be driven by the motives of the team leading the activity. For example, a hardware systems support team would invest more in building a robust organizing system for hardware systems and not focus on applications running on that hardware. Finally, the team’s intellectual abilities and knowledge would influence the granularity of the system. As the boundaries between physical and digital resources fade, system designers could face some challenging questions. For example, servers are, traditionally, considered hardware resources. However, many organization have switched to virtual servers running on big machines. In such a case, how would you define a server? Is it the big machine or the individual virtual servers? Is it a physical resource or a digital resource? If you have a standby clone of a virtual server, would you consider both to be the same entity or not?

Planning information is usually required to make business decisions and is usually less granular. This could include information about the purchase and maintenance costs, contracts, hardware life-times …etc. Mangers and planners could use this information to better plan for business activities, manage operational and capital costs, and make strategic decisions about the services and products the data center offers.

When are the resources organized?

Many data centers start building an organizing system of data about their resources based on existing resources. In such cases, building the system is the easy part. The real challenge is maintaining the information up-to-date in an ever-changing environment. Clear information life-cycle and change management processes are required in parallel with work processes to ensure information is updated.

Who does the organizing?

Based on the scope and level of granularity of the system, the number of resources could potentially be gargantuan. The organization must try to maximize the amount of information collected automatically using auto discovery ‘agents’ to keep update information. Inevitably, other information, especially information describing interdependencies, will require human entry. The organization must have a clear and comprehensive governance framework that details the roles and responsibilities of different parties in adding, and maintaining information.

Other considerations

Most big companies in the past operated their own corporate data centers. Their organizing system might have a smaller scope. The emergence of global cloud service providers has extended the commoditization of IT products and services across the entire technology landscape; from the consumers all the way back to the servers that provide them. These providers will have a bigger scope due to the diversity and dynamic provisioning of their services. As their

Organizing System Case Study


When I joined school, I bought a few notebooks to pen down notes during the class.  It didn’t take me long to realize that the quantity and diversity of information from lectures was so vast that managing it with physical notebooks was very challenging.  Besides, I felt I needed a more powerful personal note taking software that let me search my notes quickly with keywords, sort notes chronologically, categorize notes related to a certain topic, include links/photos/files/web references within the notes, replicate notes easily and share notes with others, create reminders and to-do lists; things that physical notebooks aren’t very efficient at doing. In the following sections, I will talk about my instance of “Evernote” software as a personal note-taking tool, which I use to create, organize and retrieve notes and is an elegant solution to all my needs mentioned above.

What resources are being used?

The primary resource that my note-taking software would organize is a note. Each note can be composed of text, images, links, documents, drawings, audio and video files. The first design decision involved taking scope and scale of the software into consideration. I make notes for ten classes/week and ~4 months every semester for 2 years. Each course needs one notebook each. My notes mostly contain text that I create during my classes, with occasional links, drawings, photos, videos and other file attachments. Sometimes when I quickly need to refer to a note and cant recall where it is, I need to be able to retrieve the note based on a keyword or non-textual content like images, attachments and audio present inside it. Sometimes, I need to be able to reference one lecture’s notes to another lecture’s notes if they are similar. With my instance of Evernote, low data volume such as mine is efficiently handled in terms of memory and processing capabilities of my laptop. (As opposed to Corporates having high volumes with 100s of documents being generated and stored every day). I can create virtual notebooks for each course and can keep adding notes under them for every lecture. I use tags to categorize notes related to the same topic so that I can cross-reference them at a later point. The advanced search field fulfills my above mentioned search need by allowing search all notebooks or one particular notebook for textual, non-textual information and tags. Allowing me to safely backup my notes in html/Evernote xml formats is another feature that my note-taking software gives me. This will also allow interoperability with other software systems that support these formats in case I want to port my notes to a different note-taking ecosystem.

Why are the resources organized? 

My note-taking software allows additional interactions besides note creation and archiving. It gives me flexibility to delete notebooks and notes, make copies of notes and enable others to access them. Alternately I would want to sort notes chronologically, size-wize or alphabetically. For the above interactions it’s important for the software to store resource description like the author, date of creation and last update, notebook name, size, associated tags, reminders, attachments, and geo information and revision history. The decision regarding what resource description is useful and what is not is guided by what interactions the software supports. Decision about what interactions are to be supported is determined by the scope of the software which in-turn is guided by decisions regarding storage size, number of users, number of resources the system can hold, how many attachments can each note hold and their size, whether notes can be shared with public or private individuals, whether geo-tagging is allowed, how many tags can be created per note, whether notes can be converted to other formats for interoperability and portability, what granularity of resource description is used most often to search for notes. (Eg. The decision to provide search feature by keywords/title/tags/attachments/creation date is more sensible than having to search by note size or number of attachments in a note.)

How much are the resources organized?

My system supports categorization for enable better browsing and searching with the help of “notebooks” and “tags”. It is important to use controlled vocabulary while tagging especially while sharing notes with a lot of people with write-access to the notes. By setting boundaries on who is allowed to tag the shared notes and whether they can create their own tags or forced to use existing tags is a tradeoff for the designers of this system.

Also, decision regarding what file format can you export Evernote resources (notebooks and notes) determines the extent of interoperability of notes created my Evernote system. Exporting resources as simple text/xml/html makes them more interoperable with other systems but might result in information loss (attachments images, drawings, reminders etc). Exporting as Evernote xml format (.enex) might keep all notes intact. However that might make it less interoperable with other systems. Supporting multiple export formats might be a good way to satisfy varied requirements.

When are the resources organized?

Notebooks have been created at the beginning of the semester and notes are added it to during each class. Typically, tags are created after notes are created depending on the topic the note refers to. Also, the resource description is automatically created computationally by the software as and when resources are created, updated or deleted. Additionally, copies of resources created offline exist on the local hard disk and are organized on the server cloud space once online.

Who does the organizing?

As an end-user I’m responsible for creation and physical organization of resources in my note-taking software. Taking into considerations the flexibility and limitation of the software, I decide whether to create different notes for different lectures or one note with multiple lecture’s notes. Also, depending on the cloud space available I can decide whether to attach external resources like pdfs into the system or store them as hyperlinks. Resource description activities like tagging, adding geo-location, and adding author is manually done by me. Rest of the metadata like creation and updation date, calculation of size etc is done computationally. The interaction of saving resources is done automatically by the system within the first few seconds of creation of resources. This prevents loss of information when I forget to save them explicitly.

Other considerations

Evernote is a good attempt at providing collaboration, availability, consistency, information hierarchy, it still falls short when it comes to computing ability in terms of memory and processing power and information formatting capabilities. Dropbox, Google drive, MS Skydrive, MS Office Suite, and Blogs are some of the other alternatives.

One interesting consideration here is the philosophy of centralization vs. diversification. Let me elaborate this with an example. Instagram for example accomplishes a single objective, i.e sharing of enhanced photos, and has captured the imagination of 1billion+ users. The popularity is surprising because more powerful applications like facebook and twitter can also do the same, which suggests that people applications solving specialized needs, over integrated products. To overcome this challenge, Evernote will have to think of ways and means to minimize the learning curve for users. And, product simplicity and design elegance should be its top priorities.

For the Love of Knowledge

  • Overview

As part of a small crew I was in pursuit of making a documentary film shedding light on the problems in the higher education system in India. We had travelled far and wide, captured many a thought provoking stories, illuminating interviews and shocking truths. Due to the relatively small crew and a tight schedule we ended up with our raw footage being labelled in a generic format (MVI_1234 etc.). I being the director had the task of assisting the editor in renaming and reorganizing the files to make our lives easier and to do justice to all the efforts that were put into capturing all the clips and incorporate them in an impactful manner.

  • What resources are being used?

The primary resources being organized were the video clips (digital, shot on DSLRs) acquired during the shoot. In this context they could be classified as passive resources having no real capability to produce any significant value on their own, and which had to be acted upon or interacted with to produce any effect. But the key problem here was to formulate usable resource descriptions based on the following resource properties:

Intrinsic static: Date and time of creation, duration of the clip, type of external lighting used, camera used, lens used, exposure, ISO, white balance, frame rate, compression type

Extrinsic static: Shot sequence number (assigned to each story element during story boarding), shot movement type (dolly, follow focus, zoom, macro etc.)

During this particular stage the intrinsic and extrinsic dynamic properties did not play a large role in the resource descriptions.

We had done a lot of work on story boarding and identified the right level of granularity so that we could capture each shot sequence separately, hence we directly used the shot sequence number as an important part of the resource description. This helped us keeping our descriptions short and meaningful.

Additionally, we realized that the corresponding audio clips captured along with the video also had to be organized, but since the two were intricately linked to each other we decided to use the same name as the corresponding video clip. The only difference being the extension. We relied on the editing software to capture the intrinsic static properties of the audio files like bit rate and compression type.


  • Why are the resources organized?

Essentially, we were organizing these digital resources to find, identify and select them so as to weave a powerful narrative enabling us to convey the truth in an impactful manner.

Hence the interactions were directly with the primary resource.

The interactions that had to be supported by our organization scheme involved

–          Finding the clips related to a particular story board section
–          Selecting the best set of clips to be included in the film based on relevance to story, progression, continuation and several other inter-connected factors
–          Manipulating the clip (i.e. color correcting, white balancing and stabilizing) a clip to create an aesthetic effect
–          Matching the video of a clip to corresponding audio recording
–          Adding the right background score based on sentiment being portrayed in the clips and the progression of the story
–          Providing subtitles in case of a foreign language or incoherent speech


  • How much are the resources organized?

Since the scope and size of our organizing system was relatively limited and all the resources were already available, we were able to make some bold decisions without causing a lot of problems. We formed a controlled vertical vocabulary for resource description by deliberately choosing certain resource properties over others. Our main objective was to keep the description as short as possible and at the same time convey the most valuable information that would help us interact with the resources i.e. the video clips.

We could have easily opted for a date and time stamp based id and every resource in a collection (i.e. clips specific to one camera) would have a unique id, but we realized that our cameras have already attached this information to the file along with the technical details like frame rate, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance which our operating system and editing software could easily capture, display and search through, hence we decided not to use these details.

We also decided not to include important properties like lighting conditions (kino-flo, LeikoLite etc.) and location, because the first frame in most of our clips consisted of the clap-board which contained all of this information and our editing software showed all the video files as thumbnails using first frame of the video.

Thus we leveraged all of these to form a controlled vocabulary which placed the shot sequence number first, followed by the take number followed by camera id (i.e. camA, camB etc.)
For instance: 2A_1_camB

However, we did realize that these decisions were specific to our OS and video editing software and hence lacked interoperability.


  • When are the resources organized?

In our case, although we intended to organize the resources as soon as they were acquired, we failed and then came up with an organizing system after all the resources were acquired. We leveraged this fact to our benefit and formed a more specific description system.


  • Who does the organizing?

Ideally it is the role of the first assistant cinematographer (AC), even 2nd or 3rd AC (depending on the budget) to make sure all the file names are properly stored and all the cards properly backed up. But due to our limitations we i.e. the director and the cinematographer both collaborated to organize the set of raw footage.


  • Other considerations

One important consideration that we left out in the discussion was the need for certain people appearing in the documentary to have their identity hidden by means of blurring the face and voice modulation. Although we could not accommodate this interaction of identifying which clips had footage of people who did not want to reveal themselves, we could easily add the special effects over an entire sequence once all the clips were brought together.


Ishita Ghosh


1. Overview

This is a case study of Netflix, an on-demand Internet streaming media service. It is certainly interesting to see how Netflix organizes their media so as to make their content more “discoverable” for their users. Therefore, this case study will focus on Netflix’s organizing of their media from the customer’s perspective, such that they are better able to discover, sort, and interact with the media resources, which in turns renders this process as seamless at the user end. Netflix separated its digital content from its physical DVDs service a year ago, although it must be noted that titles that are available on DVD will still show up on the search bar in Netflix’s online portal.

2. What resources are being used?

The resources in question are the different types of media that broadly includes movies and television content. These resources may already be organized to some basic extent based on simple, explicit tags such as language, basic genre (such as comedy, drama, romance, but not more complicated categories that Netflix eventually generates such as cerebral dramas) etc. The current scope and scale of Netflix’s organizational system seems dependent on their individual agreements with various production houses, which in turn determines what resources become digital content that can be streamed on-demand, online, versus what resources are stored onto physical DVDs (these services are now separated).


3. Why are the resources organized?

The resources are being organized to ensure easier and smoother “discoverability” by Netflix users, that not only reflects the popular tastes of Netflix users at large, but more specifically and perhaps more persuasively, reflects the user’s own personal tastes that are determined through a combination of review and rating mechanisms. Eventually, Netflix’s goal is to provide a seamless media viewing experience for its users, without too much exertion on the part of their users. Therefore, organizing the media resources in an optimal manner (irrespective of Netflix’s actual database size, as long as it remains relevant to the users), that lets users find media that is suited to their preferences, will ensure that they keep coming back to the platform to continue viewing Neflix’s media. To this end, Netflix supports different types of interactions. These interactions include searching, viewing, and reviewing on the part of the users. More specifically, the user can find media explicitly using the search bar on the top right (this is when they already know the title(s) of the media they want to  view) or they can discover media using Netflix’s pre-sorted genres (such as classics, comedies, cult movies etc) or through a more personalized feature that takes the user’s preferences into consideration (the account user will be greeted with captions such as because you watched 30 Rock and then a host of content similar to this will be presented; or be shown certain categories exclusively, such as cerebral dramas, based on a user’s tastes, trajectories, as well as the completion of ongoing surveys).

4. How much are the resources organized?

Evidently, Netflix has the capacity as well as the infrastructure to implement really complex organizing. The same resource may be organized across different categories. Broadly speaking, Netflix sorts these resources into basic, familiar genres, and may further add a level of granularity to these (such as certain resources under dramas may be further categorized into cerebral dramas). The same resource might then find itself into a “You may also like” categorization based on the user’s personal preferences. Eventually, Netflix’s goal remains to provide a seamless searching and viewing experience for its users. Broadly speaking, Netflix achieves this by a general sorting based on the resources’ descriptive properties (what basic genre does it belong to? what language?), but adds further granularity to this based on esoteric tagging, user reviews and ratings, as well as their viewing histories. Certainly, the extent of resource organization for a given user will also depend on how much that user views, as well as rates and reviews, the digital content on Netflix.

5. When are the resources organized?

The resources are being organized on two levels for users to better discover and access them. At one level, Netflix is continually employing the services of its in-house team as well as a small, esoteric, external team of “taggers” (such as documentary filmmakers for instance) to continually organize Netflix’s media content into pre-determined or emerging genres. However, Netflix also organizes at another level for the user, which is based on their personal preferences. This organization happens as and when the user reviews, rates, and views existing media. This seems the most feasible solution in order to accommodate both highly active users (they will have more tailor-made recommendations) as well as more inactive users (their personalized preferences might be lacking, but at least Netflix can offer them some basic recommendations).

6. Who does the organizing?

As mentioned previously, Netflix has an in-house team of “organizers” as well as an external team of “taggers” (who are typically movie experts in their own right) who essentially tag Netflix’s digital content and sort into pre-determined as well as emerging categories. Furthermore, ongoing ratings and reviews by the general corpus of Netflix users determines what is popular, leading to yet another categorization that is displayed prominently on the top of the homepage, “Popular on Netflix”. Netflix also uses automated processes that are able to determine, sort, and articulate this crowdsourced information. Therefore, through a combination of people as well as computation processes make the decisions about the organizing system; this makes the scale of Netflix’s vast digital content as well as user-generated information manageable, especially as it is organized by elected people, automated algorithms, and by the bottom-up labors of its audience. This is certainly preferable to just restricting the organizational activities to people (too slow) or to computational processes (devoid of crowdsourced/user preferences).

7. Other considerations

Currently, Netflix hasn’t attempted to integrate social media into their existing model. This may offer a new peer-review organizational capability to their existing organizational structure that may be immensely valuable for users. If computational processes can determine peers with similar tastes, even inactive users can be privy to more salient and better tailored recommendations, undoubtedly an attractive proposition.

Luxury Brand Store

Ankita Bhosle


Clothing is one of the rare commodities that people usually prefer to visit a physical store for, rather than purchasing online. This is because online shopping cannot replace the experience of shopping in-store, especially since trial of clothes is such an important part of buying them. Since the primary purpose of these resources is to clothe and adorn the body, the fit, color, suitability for particular body types are important factors influencing the decision of buying (or not buying) them. Hence, the design of physical stores/boutiques for showcasing apparel is important, especially so for luxury brands who have small and highly specialized collections. I am really fascinated by the thought that goes behind organizing apparel for display (and sale) in such stores. I find this interesting because I am a shopaholic, and I think the design decisions behind the organization of resources in luxury stores has a lot to do with higher and/or impulsive buying tendencies of consumers, and subsequent increase in sales. Organization strategy is at the heart of manipulating, shaping and possibly even controlling consumer behavior in luxury retail stores.


What resources are being organized?

The (physical) things being organized in a luxury store would be apparel, accessories (scarves, footwear, bags, jewelry, watches, belts, etc.), cosmetics and lifestyle products. The racks, tables, mannequins and pedestals that are used to display the resources are also part of the organizing system. Catalogs or lookbooks, labels on racks and on the products – all descriptions of the resources – are also organized. The sparse furniture (a sofa or two, billing counter, security sensors at entrance, seats to try on shoes) along with separate areas like trial rooms, restroom, back room for inventory need to be organized too. A luxury stores also usually has some props, lighting, art that are strategically placed to lend an ambience that aligns well with the design aesthetic of the store and showcases the resources ‘in the right light’. All these resources form the organizing ecosystem of a luxury store. For the sake of convenience, I would like to take into account only non-human resources (no store personnel). Also, the digital and online inventories of the resources in the store are out of the scope of this case study.


Why are the resources being organized?

The primary purpose would be merchandizing – to showcase/display/present the products, afford interactions like trial and buying, and induce and promote sales. On a higher level, it facilitates accessing the objects in this ecosystem and performing operations/interactions (browsing, selecting, trying and buying) on them. There are also other purposes like attracting or enticing customers and marketing strategy to increase sales of the resources. Maintaining orderliness, monitoring and tracking activity inside the store are other purposes.


How much are the resources being organized?

The extent of organization is not very uniform across the store, with some parts being more granular than others. The newest collections are generally very well organized, with a well defined structure and considering possible relations between objects (ex. matching garments, pairing items with one another). The clearance section is usually disorganized and haphazard, with items on sale usually thrown in a box or strewn across a few tables/racks. The organization principles followed are motivated by different purposes: they can be utility/convenience based (e.g. all pants together, all coats together, etc.) or more innovative and specialized (e.g. if a new collection is composed of mainly two-three colors, all items of the same color (garments, shoes, bags, etc.) are clustered together for aesthetic effect and to create an impact). Thus, the properties of the resources play an important part in their organization. A faceted classification is followed, as there is always more than one way to organize the resources, based on different properties. E.g. Apart from one of the above design choices for organizing the resources, organization by size cannot be completely disregarded.


When are the resources being organized?

When a new collection arrives, it gets the highest priority. This new collection is now organized in a more granular manner, whereas the older one, which was the highly organized one earlier, gets demoted, and is now organized in a less granular, more general manner. This reorganization strategy is implemented to highlight and draw attention onto the newest collections, and capitalize on the buzz and novelty. Even the props and lighting in the store are adjusted and re-organized accordingly. Apart from this, there would also be some routine re-organization at the start/end of a day, as a maintenance activity, though this would probably be more of a ‘putting things back into place’ activity than an actual unique activity. There are also some periodic changes in the organization strategies, as may be dictated by changes in brand policies or marketing and merchandizing strategies, causing potential reshuffling of the items in the system.


Who does the organizing?

The organization activities would most likely be performed by the store personnel as per the merchandising strategy of the brand and in adherence to the store policies. However, the actual ‘design’ of the organization is done by merchandizing experts, whereas the ‘implementation’ is done by the store personnel.


Other considerations:

It would be interesting to see how the organization system changes if the physical location of the store changes. The original theme, with its interplay of different organization principles, has to be retained and implemented in the new premises, while at the same time, maintaining uniformity across all outlets of the same brand. Standardization is the answer to this problem and can be used to impose uniformity in the luxury brand store as well as across all outlets of the same brand.


Women’s Wallets

Women’s Wallets

  • Overview (1 pt)

Even with the advancement of technology and increased use of digital currencies and digital wallets, the use of physical wallets is still a predominant way to store money, forms of identification, and other money formats (such as credit cards).  Even though resources can be stored in digital wallets, I use my physical wallet on a day-to-day basis to take it  to school with me in my backpack or for shopping/leisure purposes where I place it in my purse. This organizing system is a physical organizing system and so its size is a determining factors on the amount and type of physical resources that can be placed in there.  The number of resources that can be placed into the wallet is determined by the number of compartments the wallet contains and the number of compartments that have a special purpose whether it to hold currency or personal identification. As for the scope of women’s wallets, specifically the wallet I carry around, the wallet holds resources that can be grouped based on their value they have which is either financial or personal identification.

  • What resources are being used? (2 pts)

Resources that fit this domain are monitored by their physical properties such as size and weight because they must fit into the wallet.  The main categories of resources that belong in this organizing system are categories that have financial value and have personal identification value to the user of the wallet. Other than these main categories that can have resources classified to be in the wallet, resources that meet the physical property of being able to fit into the compartments of the wallet can belong in this organizing system. Examples include receipts and business cards that can be inserted in the wallet. As a wallet is defined to be “a pocket-sized, flat, folding holder for money and plastic cards,” we see that the resources have to have  a certain function such as currency value(money) and physical property of being plastic (credit cards, personal identification, gift cards, etc). In the category of personal identification falls not only my personal identification cards but also personal identification cards of others in the form of business cards where I place in a compartment specifically for business cards. As a result these business cards share the property of being a physical resource that contains information where I can learn about the individual digitally such as their website. Thus the resource descriptions of some of the business cards contain digital information about the individual.


The resources that are in this organizing system are determined by the user of the wallet,which in this instance is myself. I have control of how long the resource can stay in the wallet and deciding factors include the resource description found under the label called “expires” found on personal identification cards, credit cards, and some giftcards, which is a extrinsic static property. If the date I am using the wallet is past the expiration date on these cards, the lifecycle of these resources belonging in this organizing system has ended and I decide to take away these resources. As a result, the resources existence in this organizing system depend on how long they are valid for use.

  • Why are the resources organized? (2 pts)

The resources are organizes based on the purpose they serve for the user and the physical properties that they entail. They are organized so there can be differentiation between their purposes. For example, the personal identification cards are placed in a different location than where the physical currency (money) is placed. These resources are organized based on the value creation they have for the users. Cash currency is placed in one compartment of the wallet that differs to where credit cards are stored. The purpose of this is to distinguish between currencies that are liquid and those that are not. The wallet is divided into compartments that demonstrate that are intrinsic and static such that the compartments will not change size and always be in the same position as long as the wallet exists. Maintenance may be needed from time to time to ensure the placement of the compartments is functional and determining which resources are valid based on their expiration date. The resources are also organized based on the user’s ability to access the resource when they need it and improve ease of use of the wallet. They are also organized based on the interactions the user will have with the resource such as if the user needs cash, it will be in one compartment.

  • How much are the resources organized? (2 pts)

The resources are organized using faceted classification principles in which all cards go on one side and currency (cash format) goes in other compartments.  Format of the currency affects where the coins go versus where the bills go and demonstrates the implementation of the abstraction hierarchy of works where there is differentiation of money in terms of the format that it comes in. Using faceted classification, some cards can be used for both personal identification and financial purposes such as my Bank of America debit cards that has my identification on it as well. Thus this card can be placed solely with my persona ID cards on one side or on the side next to this with the credit/financial cards. Physical properties such as size also affect if the resource can be organized into the wallet.


  • When are the resources organized? (1 pt)

Resources are organized based on the time that the user needs to place or take out a resource and for maintenance purposes. They  are also organized based on their lifecycle such that if the resource is expired then it will be taken out of the wallet. They are also organized when the user has an interaction with the system, whether it is for access, retrieval, or selection purposes. If the user has a planned and systematic way of maintenance, this will be the time that organization occurs.

  • Who does the organizing? (1 pt)

Wallets tend to be owned by one person. The owner, which in this case is myself does the organizing of the resources. I am responsible for selecting which resource belong in this system and maintaining the system such that the wallet does not get overfilled with resources.

  • Other considerations (1 pt)

The wallet can also have large dependence on which other system it always is matched with such as a pocket or purse. By knowing which  other system it has a close interaction with, this also affects the type of resources that can belong in the wallet because some may be better suited to be placed in the companion depending on the user’s interactions with that.  This affects the type of interactions the user will have with the wallet in terms of access and retrieval of certain resources such as money that can also be placed in the purse.


A Weekly Newspaper

Overview. A weekly neighborhood newspaper in New York City has expanded over the years such that it now covers the entire borough of Queens. Rather than publish a single weekly edition for this highly diverse area of more than 2 million people, its owners have opted to produce 14 separate editions, each centered on a different neighborhood. All editions share a deadline, delivery schedule, and staff pool, but each has unique content tailored to its target readers.

What resources are being used? The newspaper’s resources — its content — consist mainly of articles and photos generated by staff and freelance contributors throughout the week. Often newspapers will assign their reporters to beats based on subject matter (politics, education, “cops and courts,” etc.), making them domain experts who cover stories on that beat throughout a wide geographical area. However, because of this paper’s historical orientation toward “hyper-local” neighborhood news, it has given each of its seven full-time reporters a more granular geographical beat that corresponds to two of the 14 editions’ coverage areas, within which they are responsible for “general assignment” reporting.  Most reporters also have a specialty for covering news that is of more general interest throughout the borough, such as citywide government or transportation issues, and they will include coverage of these domains in their story budgets for the week as well. The staff maintains a centralized “story list” that includes a handful of resource descriptions for each story: its “slug” (an abbreviated, descriptive name, including tags for its relevant neighborhoods), its length, and whether it has “art.”

Why are the resources organized? The media market in New York is crowded and extremely competitive, and this newspaper believes its competitive edge lies in its laser-focus on individual neighborhoods. Furthermore, most of its readers are subscribers who receive the paper in the mail, not newsstand buyers. As a result, the paper generally eschews the familiar tabloid approach of splashing the most salacious story of the week across the front page and usually fronts two stories that are “small-bore” but extremely relevant to the neighborhood, such as the doings of local school or government officials, notable crimes, or human-interest features on neighborhood residents. The deeper into the paper one goes, the less “local” its content will become, and stories often appear in more than one edition, in different locations and even with different headlines, to tailor them to an appropriate level of localization.

On a more general level, of course, the paper must support the conventional interactions all readers expect from newspapers. Readers are rarely expected to progress through the paper from front to back, so it supports a wide variety of reading styles; large headlines and photos and concise, compelling story “ledes” (opening paragraphs) facilitate skimming and scanning interactions, and dividing the paper into sections, such as “Opinion,” “Sports,” and “Arts & Entertainment,” lets readers skip directly to their areas of interest after turning past Page One.

How much are the resources organized? The level of organization behind the scenes at this small, local newspaper is surprisingly complex. The primary organizing principle that determines a story’s placement is its relevance, which is a function of location granularity (does it directly affect the people of this neighborhood? Did it happen here?), significance (will readers find it important?), and time (is it old news? Has anyone else reported it yet?). Counterbalancing that is the economic reality of the struggling newspaper industry, which results in often severely limited space for the news (because paper and press time are costly physical constraints) and manpower with which to produce all 14 editions before deadline. The result is a hierarchical system in which the 14 editions are categorized into three “zones”; in each zone, about two-thirds of the pages are common to all editions, and the remaining third (including, most crucially, pages one through three) are unique to each single edition. Thus, for instance, a general-interest story about transportation need not be laid out 14 separate times, but one about a fatal car accident can appear on Page One for the neighborhoods where it occurred and where the victims were from, and further back (or not at all) for other neighborhoods.

When are the resources organized? In a weekly news cycle, selection, creation and organizing of editorial resources is largely concurrent. The story list is updated on a rolling basis throughout the week, and an article or photo’s placement in the paper is often planned based on its intended subject matter well in advance of when the resource is actually created. However, organizing must be completed long before it reaches its intended users, because the final layouts must be printed, collated and mailed to readers, which, due to logistical concerns, takes several days – so the paper is laid out on Tuesday (as late as possible to maximize the window for ad sales), printed on Wednesday and delivered by the Postal Service on Thursday or Friday.

Who does the organizing? Human agents — specifically, editors — are the newspaper’s primary organizers. They rely heavily on the judgment of the reporters, who are most familiar with their beats, to determine a story’s relevance and placement for each edition, as well as their own news judgment, assessment of the story’s quality, and estimation of where the story will physically fit based on ad placements (which are decided first). The implementation of their organizing system is carried out by page layout designers, with some software automation on the part of the paper’s content management system.

Other considerations. Part of the grind of a weekly news cycle is that the effectivity of the paper’s resources is never guaranteed; when the next edition comes out, they all become “yesterday’s news,” and one never knows when new developments will render a story irrelevant or incorrect; in fact, because of the latency between layout and delivery, a story’s effectivity may even expire before its publication.

The CODIS DNA Database

OVERVIEW Operating on a local, state, and federal level, the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is the FBI DNA database.  As of October 2013, the National DNA Index (NDIS) or the federal level of the CODIS contained over 10,647,800 offender profiles, 1,677,100 arrestee profiles, and 522,200 forensic profiles (FBI).  Designed to help solve crimes, this database has generated over 255,400 hits and has aided over 216,200 investigations.  While this organizing system has played a crucial role in reducing crime by enabling more interactions in the law enforcement agency than ever before, it provokes numerous ethical questions worth exploring.

WHAT RESOURCES ARE BEING ORGANIZED?  The CODIS database maintains digital records or “DNA profiles” for a wide range of people involved in criminal justice cases, including convicted offenders, arrestees, missing persons, and more.  Specifically, these profiles are measurements of one or two alleles of 13 predetermined unique genetic sequence loci.  These precise measurements provide enough granularity for the profiles to uniquely identify a single individual.

These resource descriptions are generated, often with PCR technology, from the original DNA specimen resources by accredited laboratories nationwide.  Upon creation, the resources themselves – the specimens – are kept at the laboratories while the resource descriptions – the digital profiles – are added to the CODIS database.  No offender personal identifiers are assigned to the profiles; however, information on the submitting agency, specimen, and personnel is stored with the profile

Rather than focusing on collecting resource descriptions, the FBI could have chosen to collect the original resources themselves.  Presumably, though, this level of coordination of physical resources (eg shipping, storage, maintenance, etc) would have placed an additional cost on the federal government and required legislative approval.  Thus, it’s understandable that the FBI would choose to minimize cost and effort by focusing on the resource descriptions alone.

WHY ARE THE RESOURCES ORGANIZED? In the past, law enforcement agencies were limited to solving crimes within their geographic region.  A detective working on a murder in California, for example, may never have heard of a related murder in New York.  The CODIS database organizing system encourages that coordination between law enforcement agencies in an effort to solve crimes.

With 10,647,800 offender profiles in the NDIS alone, though, the massive CODIS database required an organizing system in order to prove useful to the law enforcement agencies involved.  The successful creation and maintenance of this organizing system has offered newfound interactions to a wide variety of government officials.  In addition to law enforcement agencies, judicial courts, criminal defense agencies, and population statistics agencies can access the CODIS organizing system, enabling them to perform a wide variety of functions, including identifying potential suspects in criminal investigations, identifying missing persons, collecting population statistics, and exonerating convicted criminals.

HOW MUCH ARE THE RESOURCES ORGANIZED?  As mentioned previously, the high degree of resource description granularity in measuring 13 specific genetic sequence loci enables DNA profiles to uniquely identify each individual in the database.  That being said, the DNA profiles are not simply heaped into one massive database.

Instead, the databases are maintained on both a state and federal.  A new profile might be checked against a smaller state database as well as the larger national one.  In addition, the databases are divided into different indices dependent on the DNA source, including an Offender Index, Arrestee Index, Forensic Index, and Missing Persons Index.

This division of the database into separate indices poses a tradeoff dilemma though.  If CODIS did not subdivide the database into federal/state and source indices, it is possible the algorithm would be able to find more obscure hits since the search parameters would be broadened.  This increase in hit frequency might result in more investigations aided.

The tradeoff, however, is that the broadened search parameters would also necessitate a more complex search algorithm and a longer search process.  This delay would most likely lead to fewer hits overall. Thus, in government institutions where time and resources are limited, it is more important for the CODIS organizing system users to generate a larger number of hits with subdivided databases than more accurate hits in one collective database.  Categories, in the CODIS organizing system, help simplify the interaction processes.

WHO DOES THE ORGANIZING? DNA profiles enter the CODIS organizing system when participating accredited local, state, and federal laboratories submit them.  Thus, the laboratory technicians handling the resource and resource description decide on a case-by-case basis how a given profile should be categorized and which indices it should be added to and checked against.

That being said, the lab technicians are given strict standards on how a given DNA profile should be categorized.  These standards vary state-by-state depending on state law.

Beyond laboratory and state involvement in CODIS, the FBI ultimately maintains and oversees the CODIS database.  It maintains the software and search algorithms, performs searches throughout the system, and maintains strict Quality Assurance Standards for all participating laboratories.

To avoid the risk of bias or error amongst lab technicians, the FBI could potentially choose to instead perform the laboratory processing and categorization themselves.  This alteration, however, would present new challenges such as new federal costs of maintaining and processing the resources mentioned previously.  In addition, pulling together all resources into a FBI processing center would necessitate a meticulous record of the resource’s originating state to ensure resource descriptions are categorized in accordance with state laws.  The FBI’s strict maintenance of standards and laws is the best option for addressing the risk of error and bias.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS The CODIS organizing system presents a wide range of intriguing ethical questions surrounding race, gender, criminal justice, and privacy.  Perhaps the most hotly debated issue surrounding DNA databases arose this year when the private DNA testing company 23andMe announced that it would discontinue the sale of its genetic tests in response to FDA demands, prompting more media questions than ever before on the maintenance and use of DNA databases.

Likewise, many have questioned the legitimacy of the CODIS maintenance of DNA profiles.  The ACLU, for example, has questioned the possibility of an “function creep” in the maintenance of a government DNA database which could lead our country down a slippery slope towards a ‘brave new world’ where private genetic information could be collected and used in abusive, discriminating manners.

With the commercial surveillance of 23andMe and the government surveillance of the NSA at the forefront of today’s media attention, it is possible we will see more attention turned to the legitimacy of the maintenance of the CODIS organizing system in the coming years.

Neuroscience Lab Case Study


A neuroscience lab is doing Parkinson’s disease research in which they do experiments with rats. They use different types of rats, surgeries, and drugs for experiments and have to keep track of all this information for data analysis, publications, and lab inspectors.

The existing organizing system was developed before personal computers were prevalent and has slowly evolved over time. However, much of the underlying structure of the system still has its roots in pre-computer concepts. In order to update the system to incorporate more modern technologies what are the changes to the resources, their descriptions, and the systems structure that need to be made?

 What Resources are Being Organized:

Resources in the current organizing system include rats, surgeries, experiments, drugs, and data recorded from the experiments. There are some other resources that could be incorporated into the organizing system.

One such new resource is surgery techniques. Surgery techniques have historically been passed down by the master apprentice method and information was largely tacit knowledge that was held by the researchers performing the surgeries and not explicitly in the system. This was done because it is inherently difficult to store the intricacies of surgery in text and even more difficult for a new researcher to learn how to perform the surgery from textual information. The ability to store and annotate multimedia changes this however. It is now possible to make instructional videos for each type of surgery, add resource descriptions to the video file and store it in the organizing system.

There is also a resource that is treated as one resource through its entire lifetime when it may actually be two. When rats are originally brought into the organizing system they are treated as a manifestation of the rat resource type.  Meaning the rats are interchangeable, you can use any rat from that group in your surgery. Once the surgery has been performed the rat is modified into a new resource instance. The specific rat the surgery was performed on now has a new set of resource descriptions.

Why are the Resources Organized:

Is the main purpose of the organization system to make sure the correct rats are used in each different experiment? Or is it to make sure the records are kept up to date for the lab inspectors? It could also be making data analysis and paper writing more efficient. These decisions will affect how many different types of resource descriptions are required and the granularity needed for those descriptions.

This system is just one of many organizing systems within a lab so deciding the scope and interactions it will have with the other organizing systems is very important. One important decision is if the system will support the training of new members of the lab or not. Having resources such as video recording of surgeries and experiments could enable teaching interactions for new researchers.  But there are many other aspects of training a new researcher must go through, should these also be included in the organizing system? If so, it would make the system much more complex and expand the scope of the organizing system outside of surgeries and experiments but would keep all of the teaching resource in one system.

Another option would be to have a separate organizing system that is responsible for training material which is able to interact with the multimedia in the system that are relevant to training. This does not expand the scope of the system but would make the maintenance of it more difficult. Each time a surgery technique or experiment is changed two systems would have to be updated to take the changes into account.

How much are the Resources Organized:

The system is going to be access by many different types of users, each requiring a different type of interaction. The researchers need to search for the correct rat and surgery technique. The lab inspector needs to check for drug logs and make sure all the surgery methods and equipment are up to date. The principle investigator needs to see an overview of progress on projects.

Currently the system is organized in hierarchical categories where the top-level categories are surgery and experiments. This organization makes it easy to retrieve specific resources. However, the interactions normally performed with the system use resources from both sub-trees, which makes the hierarchical approach less than optimal.

A faceted classification approach could work well to enable these interactions.  The facets would incorporate the original categories of surgery and experiments but also add facets for each common type of interaction. In this case different resource descriptions of the same resource will often be classified into different facets. These resource descriptions will often act as resources themselves. For example, a lab inspector is interested in retrieving the expiration date and times a drug was used in surgery, not the drug itself.

When are the Resources Organized:

In a neuroscience lab resource descriptions are often lost if they are not recorded at the time they are measured. For example, if a rat is weighed to calculate the correct dosage of a drug, both the dosage and the weight should be entered into the system. If the weight is not entered at the time or measurement it would be impossible to weigh the rat later and get the same result (as the rat changes weight over time.) This is a common problem, so as a rule all resources and descriptions should be entered into the system at the time they are acquired.

Who does the Organizing:

The researchers working in the lab do all of the organizing. They are the ones creating new resources, descriptions and have the most knowledge about the resources and how they relate to each other.

Other Considerations:

Changing the system and entering all of the data at the time of measurement will initially cause more work for the researchers but will result in more accuracy for the interactions supported by the system and less retrieval work during data analysis and paper writing.

Ikea Case study – Sandra


Ikea is much more than a furniture store. It is a highly-organized system that successfully draws customers in, makes them linger there, and induces them to purchase something, while also delivering an unbeatable customer experience. The experience is so enjoyable that customers often come back just for fun, whether it is to casually browse, hang out with a friend, bring the kids to play, or even go on a date. What are some of the underlying design decisions that create this Ikea experience?

What resources are being used?

Ikea organizes many different types of resources including furniture, household goods and appliances, and food. Resources are not unique because there are many duplicate copies of the same resource, which can take different forms in each instance. The furniture that the customer sees and interacts with in the “showroom” is only the display copy of that furniture; what they actually purchase is another instance that is disassembled and stored in the warehouse. Similarly, customers can buy and consume warm and prepared foods in the cafeteria (Swedish meatballs with gravy), or they can purchase the same type of food in a packaged form to bring home (frozen Swedish meatballs). Apart from organizing the resources for sale, Ikea also organizes information about those resources in the form of physical reference ID tags on the furniture and digital descriptions of each resource that is displayed on the website.

Why are the resources organized?

All of the resources are strategically organized in the building to enhance customer experience and incentivize customers to purchase their products. The store is laid out in a way that leads all customers through a path that passes through every showroom that is made to look like an actual bedroom, living room, kitchen, etc. This implicitly forces customers pass through and look at almost everything in the store. Usually along the way, certain products will appeal customers and cause them to stop and linger even if they had not planned to purchase anything in that section. After customers are tired and hungry from walking through all the showrooms, there is a strategically placed cafeteria in the middle that offers food and refreshments. At the end, when customers are done purchasing their items, there is a food stand right by the check-out selling hot dogs and ice cream cones. The store layout is intentionally designed to make customers linger, offer refreshments when they get hungry, purchase more items, and still go home happy with the experience.

Resources are also organized to enable certain sets of interactions. The display furniture are arranged to look like an actual bedroom or kitchen, etc, which allows customers critically observe a piece of furniture in its proper context, touch it, sit on it, and determine whether they want to purchase it or not. In this way, the showroom acts as a tangible interface that allows users to interact and access information about the furniture. Information about the resource is displayed on tags on each display furniture, and customers write down the exact reference ID of the item they are purchasing. This allows customers to find the same exact type of furniture later in the warehouse. Furniture in the warehouse is disassembled, packaged into flat boxes, and stacked on top of each other, because the overall goal here is to optimize storage space and facilitate transportation. Besides reference IDs on all the boxes, resource descriptions on the boxes include a helpful sketch of the furniture and the color, to help customer verify that they are purchasing a duplicate instance of the resource type they saw on display.

How much are the resources organized?

A lot of detail and effort is put into organizing and arranging the display furniture in the showroom, because that is the main interface for customers. First they are arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner to draw the customer’s attention. Every single resource needs to have very specific placement in order to reflect a real setting of a room. For example, coffee tables must go next to the couches and vases on top of tables or shelves. All display furniture also has reference tags that allow customers to search for the same furniture type later on in the warehouse. On the other hand, household items in the Market Hall, are not organized with such great detail. Like most other stores, similar resource types are grouped together based on its intended uses (kitchenware vs bathroom items) and duplicates of the same resources are just placed together on a shelf or container. In the warehouse, each unique instance of packaged furniture is assigned a unique ID so Ikea can keep track of its inventory and sales. This important information is then channeled through the Ikea website, so customers can check online whether or not an item is in stock in a particular store.

When are the resources organized?

The packaged Ikea furniture is organized in the warehouse as soon as new shipments come in. The display furniture is arranged seasonally to reflect the newest designs that are coming in. Product information is updated nightly or every couple days to collect the current stock levels at each Ikea store and to update the website.

Who does the organizing?

Ikea store manager or designers oversee the design and arrangement of the showroom. Other employees organize the packaged furniture when they receive and unload shipments. Some organization is automatic. Every time a customer purchases furniture, the barcode on the package is scanned, and the inventory is automatically updated in the database.

Other considerations

There are always some tradeoffs in every design decision. While Ikea is a great place to spend a lot of time browsing, it is not well suited for those customers who want to quickly search for specific item and leave. It first takes a long time for customers to navigate through the store to get to the right section. And within that section, it is often difficult to find the exact location of the item. Smaller items such as towels may appear multiple times throughout the store in the Market Hall and the warehouse. This further adds further confusion in the search process. But In the end, the designer chose a system that prioritized browsing rather than doing a precise search for a single item.